What Exactly is Bipolar Disorder

What Exactly is Bipolar Disorder

Jun 17, 2019

While many people know they have a Bipolar diagnosis, many are unsure how to distinguish the differences between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2. And many aren’t aware that there are two types at all. Let’s look at some of the differences.

First let’s take a look at the overall symptoms for Bipolar then we will jump into the key differences for both.

Bipolar disorder is generally characterized by extreme mood swings. There are the high moments, which are referred as manic episodes, and there are the low moments, referred to as depressive episodes.

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Let’s dive a little deeper into those moments referred to as manic and depressive episodes.


Much like clinical depression, a person with Bipolar disorder will suffer from extended periods of sadness or hopelessness. This could also be attributed to losing interest in activities you would typically enjoy doing, as well as spending time with people you would normally enjoy spending time with. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Thoughts of suicide


Mania is an episode outside of depression. This is a feeling of elation, happiness or very high energy. However, during a manic episode for someone suffering from Bipolar these emotions and feelings may be so intense that they start to interfere with your life and daily activities.

This state can be very difficult to control, and while in a manic episode people can make very rations decisions, which include: Spending large amounts of money, engaging in high risk behaviors and extreme sexual behavior despite being in a committed relationship.


Another form of Mania is Hypomania. As it sounds it is a lesser form of Mania. While the differences in mood will be extreme enough to be noticed by loved ones and friends, the symptoms will be far less severe than full-blown-mania.


The differences between Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2

  • Bipolar 1

In order to be diagnosed with Bipolar 1 you have to have at least one manic episode in your lifetime. As discussed earlier Mania is a feeling of extreme elation, happiness or very high energy. Manic episodes can also be characterized as:

  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling of euphoria
  • Delusions
  • Risky behavior, both with the law and sexually
  • Lack of very little need for sleep.

These symptoms may be so severe that hospitalization is required.

  • Bipolar 2

Bipolar 2 is characterized as a depressive episode lasting at least 2 weeks with at least one hypomanic episode. As we mentioned earlier a hypomanic episode has similar symptoms as a full-blown-manic episode, but are much less severe and should not require hospitalizations.

Bipolar 2 is often misdiagnosed as Depression, as the hypomanic episode may not be extreme enough to properly diagnose.

How is it treated?

Your doctor will likely provide some form of medication for your Bipolar disorder. These medications can bring your manic and depression episodes under control with proper usage and also prevent relapse once your mood has stabilized.

The most important step is to talk with your doctor and find out which bipolar medication is right for you. Some medications include:

  • Lithium
  • Depakote
  • Lamictal (Lamotrigine)
  • Seroquel (Quetiapine)
  • Zyprexa (Olanzapine)
  • Symbyax (A combination of olanzapine and fluoxetine)
  • Abilify (Ariprazole)
  • Geodon (Ziprasidone)
  • Risperdal (Risperidone)


As always remember when taking all medications to remember to:

  • Take your medication as prescribed.
  • Keep track of side effects
  • Consult your doctor on these side effects
  • Avoid any potential drug interactions

For the most effect treatment it is best to combine these medications with lifestyle changes such as:

  • Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Stable sleep schedule
  • Healthy Diet
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs




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